As you may have already heard, a new residence hall is being built on campus called Bechtel! It will be opened Fall of 2018 and will allow for all undergraduates to be able to live on campus for the entirety of their time at Caltech if they wish (of course, you can still live off campus in a non-Caltech affiliated apartment if you choose). However, we still do not know which group of students Bechtel will be open to.
I am a member of the COUCH committee at Caltech, a group that is helping to propose who will live in the new residence. I am leading the “themed housing” group; we are proposing that a portion of the new residence should be used for living-learning communities.
The process of being on the COUCH has been super enlightening to me. As a frosh, I have been able to meet with some high-level administrators and have them listen to my opinions and ideas. One of the coolest things I got to do, though, was visit the Bechtel construction site!
When we first got there, we were given hard hats, construction vests, and shown the live-cam view of the entirety of the construction site. It’s huge! The project managers explained that they even had a drone come in to tell them how much dirt they needed to remove in order to not be left with a tremendous soil pile when the construction was over.
Here I am with my hat and construction vest!
After the brief presentation, we got to go into the construction site. We saw the foundation of various buildings, the spaces between each building allowing for earthquake safety, and the location of the courtyard. One of my favorite parts was looking at the mock-ups. A mock-up is a practice project for the construction team; they build a single room or wall to perfect the technique for completing the entire building. We got to see a mock-up of one wall and the polished concrete floor as well as another mock-up of an actual bedroom, furniture and everything. The room was pretty large for a single.
Since Bechtel is a green, energy efficient building, it has some cool features, one of which is the air conditioning. To save energy, air conditioning turns off if you open the window in your room. This is one way that Caltech is looking to save energy.
Anyway, after the tour, we unfortunately had to give the hard hats and vests back (though it's ok, each house has its own set of hard hats to use for interhovse construction!). I am hopeful that whoever lives in Bechtel will have a beautiful building to call home.